MOUSEPADS 2005 by Feuersturm

 

It is once again time to increase the awareness of the importance of a good mousepad in gaming. What better way than to sum up the personal arsenal and see what really stands out. For each, I used a Logitech mx300 and mx518 with hyperglides, mouseskatez and stock feet, to figure out how the pads react to different materials. Generally, I do recommend hyperglides with ANY cloth pad and most semi-hard surfaces such as Qpad or Xtrac Hybrid.

My view on a mousepad's role in a player's performance can be interpreted from this simple "chart". Remember, to deny the undeniable effect of the mousepad in your gaming performance is one step away from improving yourself and deallocating dormant potential.

One should always strive for a situation where the mousepad serves as a direct continuity of personal skill and doesn't act as a barrel against the door. Unfortunately, most people don't care enough to find out if they could actually perform better with a "good mousepad", since they are doing "fine" with their "current ones". These are the people who often belittle the major importance of the mousepad and are more worried about if they can reach 76 or 125 fps.

Each mousepad is presented with a description and 2 photos - one being an overall view of the pad with measurements and the other being a closeup giving an idea of the pad's thickness compared to a 2 euro coin and a glimpse of the surface. An old Intellimouse Optical was used to enhance the impression of the size of each mousepad, since it was the only mouse I had laying around. All reviews are as truthful as possible, no marketing talk to be found here.


ALLSOP RAINDROP GIGAPAD XL COREPAD EYEPAD XL EVERGLIDE DESTRUKT (M) EVERGLIDE GIGANTA V3 OPTICAL SMOKE
EVERGLIDE TITAN (LARGE) FUNC SURFACE 1030 QPAD LOWSENS STEELPAD QCK+
ULTI-MAT BREATHE X4 X-RAY AQUA 3 XTRAC HAMMER XTRAC HYBRID
XTRAC RIPPER     additional thoughts

ALLSOP RAINDROP GIGAPAD XL

I see no reason for any regular Allsop-user not to switch to the larger version of the pad. This is nearly the same old Allsop stretched into larger proportions. The surface is finely woven cloth and it is quite silky but also packs a mighty amount of resistance no matter what you have for mousefeet. This might prove to be problem for those who wish their pad to respond with less effort, but if you can handle it or you are using a ridiculously low sens then the Gigapad XL is right up there with any other "pro pad". Easy availability and low price might attract many.


COREPAD EYEPAD XL

Corepad joined forces with the well-known multigaming team EYE to come up with a competitive cloth pad, here's a product description from corepad.com:

The EYEpad™ is the result of a cooperation between Core Gaming Gear (the manufacturer of the Corepad gaming surfaces) and Team EYEBALLERS (Eyeballers (EYE) is a professional gaming team, founded in Sweden in 1998).

The EYEpad™ is one of the thinnest cloth mouse pads on the market and still comfortable for your wrist. The design, material and measurements are developed together with Team EYEBALLERS and therefore tested and approved by a professional gaming team. This ensures you will get the best out there for your gaming needs, like precision, feel and functionality.

The best, they say? Well I won't argue about the "cool-factor" in having your team name printed on a professionally manufactured mousepad, but this is hardly any different from most other similar cloth pads out there. EYEpad comes in a few sizes and since the regular one is too small I just went for the XL. Results with both hyperglides and mouseskatez/xtrac eels weren't very impressive. The pad is somewhat slow and for a midpaced shooter like ET where finesse can indeed make all the difference, I felt troubled while using this product due to an odd gliding sensation it has. Uncomfortable. Average. One way to overcome the slow feel of the EYEpad would again be to use it with a very low sensitivity, but always comes with it's own costs and therefore hardly classifies as a profitable solution. Of course you might find the cloth surface of the EYEpad totally secondary if you are not that picky about the mouse movements and prefer sheer size over the actual performance. Overall, just another thin mousepad, that deserves a fitting grade of 7/10. Keep your EYEs open and don't let the fancy name fool you.


EVERGLIDE DESTRUKT (M)

The Rolls Royce of cloth mousepads. This now classic Everglide pad comes in 3 sizes and was the first one to really impress me in 2004-2005. Such smoothness just doesn't receive enough appreciation. It has been available for years, but has slowly vanished into the night, making those who have one pretty lucky people.

As a new pad, the DKT is a performer above all. The silky smooth feeling is best described as one of a kind, since it's by far the best cloth sensation you could imagine. Tracking has a very controlled feeling, even though the slowness might feel too resistive sometimes, it will still work for your advantage, gently filtering out overcompensation and general "whoosh!" for those who need a helping hand or have a high sensitivity. The surface will give in over time a little bit, which is only natural, but the lulling, soft feel is always there. That means if you are into this sort of thing, slow and comfy, it's the best money can buy. The transition from brand new to a scarred veteran-Destrukt takes about 6-12 months and after that the pad's metamorphosis reaches a ready-state and settles down. Just like Beavis did. Only smoother.

Even after prolonged use, this weapon of a mousepad stays tough. The only problem that I had with it once was a weird skipping habit it developed with my mx300, which pretty much made the cursor jump around on the pad like mad all the time. mx518 is completely immune to this problem and therefore the issue could be narrowed down to the sensors. Anyway, as far as I know I was the only person who experienced such erratic behavior, so there's no reason to be alarmed here.

Unfortunately there is another reason to be alarmed, and that is that Everglide is no longer manufacturing these bad boys and most webshops are most likely out of stock by now. If you manage to find one, get it - everglide.co.uk told me that mostly it's the small version that still goes around. The Titan version, as I understood, does not have the original fabric surface of the Destrukt. Bummer.


EVERGLIDE GIGANTA V3 OPTICAL SMOKE

One of the first attempts to make fraggin' one step more productive by Everglide. I was also once even told it's supposed to be good. This is an abomination. I guess some people just have really low standards. Basically what we have here is a sorry excuse for a plastic pad, combining all the worst elements you could ever gather into one single mousepad. It's small, uncomfortable, jerky and thick. If there's anything good to say about it, well, it sure does grip well. An hour of desktime for this prime example of worthlessness was enough. Avoid at all costs.


EVERGLIDE TITAN (LARGE)

Quote from everglide.com:

The Everglide Titan is Everglide’s 2nd generation cloth mousemat that transcends all existing cloth mousepads. The Everglide Titan features the cutting-edge Fibretek™ woven fibre technology for precision tracking with minimal traction. Co-developed with fnatic.

The Titan is classy to the core. It comes in an elegant metal tube which, upon opening, smells like a wet boot, but sure looks hot. They say it's a 2nd generation cloth mousemat which is supposed to be better than anything else out there, which gets a few hinting coughs from my direction as I fail to agree on that, but it does have a certain punch. Everglide has not hopped the trendy must-be-thin -wagon, so the added thickness comes with extra comfort. As you might imagine, the bottom of a mousepad, especially with cloth ones, serves almost like a suspension in a car, making the ride smoother. Good to see that some people still realize that, and perhaps we're finally getting rid of the thin pad boom. Once you whip it out, the Titan lays flat right out of the tube and grips well.

Everglide says "minimal traction". Let me respond to that by saying bullhorsecrapbuttshit. See, the Titan is one of the slowest new cloth pads made, by default, without breaking it in for two months. Again, tests performed with both mouseskatez and hyperglides demonstrated that there was basically no or very little difference in what (replacement) feet you might use. Titan is just slow because the "2nd generation Fibretek-woven surface with minimal traction" is! On the other hand, the slow surface is really smooth and consistent, almost coming close to what the Destrukt is, making this probably the second best choice for a fine cloth pad and a worthy alternative with the exception of having slightly more sturdiness in the fabric. It would seem that wear and tear on the Titan is not a problem, as long as you don't use it with a mouse with damaged feet. If you're into pads that fight back a little bit, the Titan is a prominent opponent in all it's elegance.


FUNC SURFACE 1030

As if you don't know how this is. Well, obsolete, to say the least. There are larger versions available now, which I have, but have not reviewed.

This is a pad that goes way back in the world of online gaming, and certainly did impress me in 2002. The plastic surface is quite an ice rink for the first months of use, but gradually the hard slickness starts to degrade and eventually will reach a point where you have to ask yourself if the pad still brings out your finest qualities as a player.

There are a few problems with this old warhorse, the most notable being the size, which is small and feels oppressive, commonly forcing the player to boost his sensitivity in order to maintain his maneuverability, and thus subjecting him- or herself to a less precise gaming experience. Had the size-issue been solved right from the start, the Func could have been even more succesful back when it was still a hot piece of plastic.

However, the size is not the only issue here. The Func is very susceptible to wear and tear. The infamous "shiny" areas that develop on the smoother side of the pad are a very known problem, but it's somewhat uncertain how they affect the glide. The rough side is in fact quite a lot more durable and doesn't suffer visual damage, but nonetheless slows down over time enough to distract and annoy the user. Additionally, the plastic surface has a sweet tooth for your mousefeet and will feast on them insatiably.

If you can handle some major inconsistencies and the small size, you could do fine with this one. But for anyone who demands more, it's best to keep away from this outdated hero. Take note, you should only use it with stock feet for optimal performance


QPAD LOWSENS(E?)

Yes, lowsens. Not lowSENSE. That wouldn't make much SENSE now would it? Who named this pad anyway? Is the highSENSE version more sensible? What? Right. Idiots.

Qpad has been a hit among gamers, and not completely without a reason. I'm not sure how many different Qpads there are nowadays, but don't look further than the largest one which is just big enough for anyone's needs. Qpad is not a cloth pad as some describe it, the surface is harder, bit of a mess, and I am not putting my finger on what material it is. One thing is for sure, it's not half bad. How could it be, looking at how insanely popular it has become, right? A thousand flies and that sort of thing.

But alas, it just isn't that simple. The Qpad is the most double-barrelled mousepad I've ever used. I'll do my best to explain why.

I used to have the Qpad on and off my desk for months, and it's still one of the most used pads in terms of how many hours in total I've spent pondering upon it's veiled secrets. One thing is certain, it will quickly become a waste of time with most regular mousefeet, atleast for anyone looking to get the most out of it. The surface simply does not favor most stock feet, for instance the mx-series or Intellimouse ones, turning them into brake lumps in a matter of weeks. I've said it before and I'll say it again - you need hyperglides or equivalent with this one.

Once you have your feet-business in order, the fury of the Qpad will be unleashed. A brand new Qpad will unavoidably have a cardboard-like roughness, but after using it for a while and once the feet and the surface adjust, the glide becomes smoother and even more effortless. The surface texture seems to last very well at first, and by this time the pad has already reached it's peak, which lasts for some months, but then the descending begins.

The transformation of the Qpad is indeed a strange one. Once you've passed the super-slick first phase, you will soon notice that the more you play, the more it seems like it's reaching a status quo, from which there is no way out. Hyperglides are still providing good performance, but the slowness is already there, adding an insecure feeling of "how long will this last?". The best thing to do at this point is not to change your (hyper)glides, since that would only return you to the beginning of the cycle, bringing back the freshness of a new Qpad, which would feel great for a while, but eventually would lead back to the point where you already are, making your lengthy adjustive efforts vain. A cycle of inconsistency.

There is a point where the Qpad will simply not become much slower. Unfortunately, this point is somewhere far from the level of a new Qpad and a lot closer to regular cloth pads. This doesn't mean it feels like a Destrukt once it's 2 years old, it will only feel rubbery and highly inconsistent, making a cloth pad a far more reasonable choice if that's what you're after. Strangely enough, flicking your mouse over the pad can still send the rodent gliding overboard, creating an illusion of slickness, which is shattered as soon as you get into some action demanding precise, fluent tracking. Some people might be able to overlook this vast problem, but for truly requiring use, it no longer serves as productive gaming equipment.

So the Qpad is indeed fun while it lasts, for that while even one of the best ones made, but the question is - are you ready to pay some big bucks for a momentary rush? Are you ready to change your mousefeet every few months? Are you ready to clean it atleast once every few days? Are you ready to adjust to the major inconsistencies and deal with the moodswings it has? Anyone looking to get something that lasts, the Qpad lures you in and then gives a painful slap in the face. It boggles me to see so many people using it with a merry smile on their face. I guess ignorance is bliss.

The CT-version of the Qpad is basically 95% identical with the original one, having a slightly smoother surface and new graphics. Despite this pad's wide distribution and success, I feel obligated to lower my rating of the Qpad down from "highly recommended" to "somewhat recommended". Be aware.


STEELPAD QCK+

Why settle for less, said a wise man. The QcK is available in a few sizes, the QcK+ being the largest. Since the regular QcK is a few centimeters short of what I prefer and what should be preferred, I was forced to go with this one. What we have here is a classic cloth pad modernized, with very few surprises. Of course, the pad is quite thin, which has been the ongoing trend along with the XL-hype.

When I first tested the QcK+, I was awestruck. With mouseskatez, hyperglides and even stock feet, the glide was phenomenal. Never has a cloth pad been so slick. Playing with the QcK+ for a few weeks was definitely allowing me to reach my personal best, which pretty much meant big trouble for anyone on the wrong side of my MP40. "The new king of cloth pads", I thought. And that's when the QcK ripped off my head and took a shit down my neck. Sometimes these things can break your heart.

Much like any other pad, the surface became less and less comfortable to use, seemingly adding friction day by day. Naturally this had a clear impact on gameplay and I sought salvation in changing skatez, which didn't help at all and efficiently eliminated skatez from the source of problems. I managed to squeeze out a few extra days of use with hyperglides, but in the end, I had to give up on it. The QcK+ lasted a good 2-3 weeks before losing all the magnificient glide and most importantly consistency it so treacherously accustomed me to, making this one a bitter disappointment.

So the QcK+ degrades to the level of any other "ok" cloth pad, and has nothing spectacular to offer once the (treated?) fabric loses it's finest edge. A real shame, that the sheer perfection of the first weeks refuses to last. If you don't care about this flaw, then feel free to get it. The QcK-pads are available for an affordable price.


ULTI-MAT BREATHE X4

OVERKILL. Just look at it. Eh? Mighty impressive to say the least. Is it a blanket or a mousepad? The answer is: a very average mousepad.

Ulti-mat knowingly took a stance and said "f*ck off" to anyone thinking they've done a huge mousepad. At one point, the Breathe X4 was the largest mousepad available, but it has been later surpassed by the Corepad Deskpad XXXL. Breathe comes in a variety of sizes ranging from midget to the colossal X4. Of course, the X3 was not big enough, so again what was I supposed to do? A word from the Ulti-mat guys themselves:

The Ulti-mat Breathe mouse pad is made completely out of fabric. Breathe is a so called low sensitive pad. The surface of the pad is finalized which makes the pad different and slipperier than the most of it’s competitors.

A low sensitive pad? Well that explains a lot, I always knew mousepads have emotions. Anyway, the Breathe is a slow, thin cloth pad. Not "slipperier" than any other cloth pad out there. Resistance can be utilized, harnessed, on pads like Destrukt or Titan, to work for the favor of the player, but Breathe is just plain nasty.

There is something uneasy and inconsistent in the fabric that I really can't put into words, but I don't like it at all. Hyperglides and mouseskatez yielded the same results and I can't see any type of teflon-based product performing any better on this mousepad. Not my choice for a cloth pad.


X-RAY AQUA 3

Yet another thin cloth pad? Whoppydoo. Well, since when did I have enough of these? Luckily they are/were available in Finland for a low price, so what is there to lose?

Not much, to be exact. Aqua 3 is smooth. It's actually among the best thin cloth pads made, based on the time I spent giving it a spin. Again, all mousefeet felt pretty much the same on top of Aqua 3, which proved to have a gentle, silky glide. There's some friction to be noticed though, which is what you should expect, and even though it doesn't feel like a brand new QcK, it doesn't hold the player back as much as some other pads would.

I'd urge you to get this if you can't get any of the finer cloth pads.


XTRAC HAMMER

This is without a doubt the thinnest mousepad I've seen. Not any thicker than a credit card. What is the purpose of this, I do not know.

Unfortunately, it's not as much a gaming mousepad as it is an overgrown credit card. The Hammer is ultimately a basic plastic pad, and lacks the kind of glide you'd hope to find in one. The surface is very lightly textured and has the same neat hexagonal pattern as the other Xtrac pads, which is supposed to help tracking. I'm not sure if the pattern actually has an impact.

This could be used with stock feet and hyperglides alike. Tracking qualities might be sufficient for some, but there is no doubt about the fact that there are better plastic mousepads out there. Also, the Hammer being quite thin could prove to be a little bit of a problem as much as it may be a good thing, because if placed on a wooden table with a rough texture, you will feel the table through the pad and generally this could be considered quite unpleasant. Placing something (plastic sheet for example) under the pad to create an even base will eliminate the problem, but the pad itself remains the same - quite alright, but nothing special.

Also, the Hammer is very delicate and even the slightest bend might cause permanent damage. For this reason, the pad is delivered well-packed with 2 protective cardboard pieces.


XTRAC HYBRID

Xtrac invaded a whole new territory with this one. Applause. This is really what they say it is: a hybrid mousepad. The description by xtracpads.com:

XTracPads HYBRID™ represents more than a year's worth of development and research. What we came up with was a flexible mouse pad that is both cloth AND plastic at the same time... on the same surface!

Well, you can roll it up like a cloth pad, but it has the glide of plastic pad. Hybrid is actually the closest in relation to the Qpad, because they both have a somewhat unspecified semi-hard surface. The Hybrid however, manages to be smoother than the Qpad and quite honestly surpasses it's toughest competitor in every aspect. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a sleeping giant.

The shape of the pad has more emphasis on width instead of height, which isn't a problem because in games similar to ET, you mostly need room to move left and right. The feel of the pad is truly one of a kind: I've tried mad dotz, mouseskatez, hyperglides (again, the best) and stock feet on it and they all performed extraordinarily well. The movements are fluent and smooth and there is only slight resistance to be noticed. You've got to give credit to Xtrac for creating something different for a change. The glide is actually so fluent, that while equipped with hyperglides, you can't even feel any texture while moving the mouse.

Xtrac Hybrid is a safe choice when you're looking for a unique elasticity meets performance -type of surface, that isn't ruined with lack of thicknes. Also, Hybrid defies time and wear unlike any other similar mousepad I've tried. Combination of hyperglides and frequent cleaning have kept it going very strong. It's a shame this mousepad hasn't received the kind of distribution Qpad has, but perhaps that's not entirely a bad thing - who on earth would reveal their finest secret weapons anyway? Best semi-hard surface I've come across so far, and that's said a lot, trust me. The new version has the hexagonal pattern covering the whole pad.


XTRAC RIPPER

This is the smaller of the two versions. A typical (not atypical) cloth pad with the trademark hexagonal pattern by Xtrac covering the whole surface area. Not much can be said about a humble creation like this, basically because, well, there's not much more to say, really.

The surface is a hint rougher than most of those shiny, finely woven, treated cloth pads, and you can feel this difference on the Ripper as you do fast movements. While moving the mouse slowly, you get the basic resistive cloth emotion we're so familiar with already, but when you speed up, you can definitely feel a texture. Though this doesn't bother all that much, it still manages to be a bit distracting, since cloth has always had a tendency to provide a very smooth ride throughoutly.

I don't see how the Ripper XL would be any different, so my advice is to look for a cloth pad elsewhere.



Originally I didn't include a conclusion of any sort, mainly because I felt that I have no reason to dictate what you should be using, and so decided to leave the conclusive decisions for the reader to make. However, some last notes would be in order.

How a mousepad suits your needs is up to you. If you don't demand higher performance, then perhaps you shouldn't waste your time on these silly things. Most surfaces will unfortunately wear out a lot and again it is up to you how much you let it affect your game. Inevitably, altered and/or poor glide will still make a difference whether you like it or not. Personally, I can't stand pads that suffer from massive moodswings or fast deteriorating, since they don't offer that extremely important consistency you need to maintain a stable execution. If you don't have that, then you might be one of those people who have lots of good and bad days, but you never stop to wonder why.

Also, other pads are better for certain games. You don't see quakers using plastic or even hybrid pads, they know cloth is the best for fast paced, hectic games. In such games, it's crucial to have a relatively high sensitivity, and the stability and comfort of a clothpad cannot be surpassed when you're operating on the far edge of your abilities. So these reviews are probably less useful for voos and fatal1ties.

In a midpaced fps like RTCW or ET, the less resistive pads come into play. They are great for extremely delicate and precise movements that one simply must master to get the upper hand, because the difference between 3 headshots and 3 misses can be painfully small. Tracking targets that move slower than in Quake, but still fast enough to throw your aim off, requires a very gentle touch.

Simply put, the Xtrac Hybrid is your number one choice if you're looking for a near-ethereal glide. Arm your mouse with some hyperglides and you're good to go. There's nothing like it.

In the world of cloth, Destrukt reigns, Titan not falling far behind. No matter what your game is, they are some of the finest made.

Finally, a few thought about aiming here, in case you haven't had enough.


Feuersturm 2007